Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Giving Form to Water: Design Education

A Fish Story

There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says "Morning, boys. How's the water?" And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes "What the hell is water?"
                        David Foster Wallace[1]

No one really understands water. It's embarrassing to admit it, but the stuff that covers two-thirds of our planet is still a mystery.
                        Philip Ball

Today more young fish are asking what the hell water is—along with other big questions that weren’t answered in their schools (pun intended). Water is a deep mystery (Ball, 2008). With the rising tide of interest in design, younger fish as well as their elders are asking more frequently—what the hell is design? Design, like water, is a deep mystery. Since design is such a mystery it is well to ask how does one become a designer—the question that focuses our attention on design education? Other questions arise such as: how does one design, how does one become better at being a designer, how does one determine what ought to be designed in the first place? The questions go on and on as is always the case when the young are pressing them forward.

The questions are systemically intertwined and difficult to divide into separate threads of inquiry that stay un-entangled. That said, we start with the first question—how does one become a designer? Before we can do that however we have to travel a little further upstream to explore the source of the mystery that is named design.

To Be Cont'd

[1] From the commencement address given to the graduating class of Kenyon College in 2005